The first time it happened, I was in S.4. It was the beginning of the school term and my friends and I had gone to engage in the opening term ritual.
On the first day of the school term, it was a custom for the more daring students to catch the next taxi back to Kampala after being deposited by their unsuspecting parents at the school. The point of this was to, well, boys will always be boys, so we would go and explore the city and have fun because, hell, there was nothing better to do at school. So, after saying bye to mommy and daddy and promising to do very well in class this term, and a suitable timeframe to give the parents a head start, I jumped on a taxi and headed back to Kla, thrilled at breaking the rules.
Lots of alcohol, pool games, meanderings and whatnot, I found myself in a bar near the old taxi park. It was much like any bar near the park, tall wooden stools, plastic chairs, pool table in the centre of the room, watched from above by a television that seemed to pick up a very clear STV signal.
"That TV is very clear" I remarked after losing a game of pool and it's the last thing I remember from that night. I hazily remember too, scurrying under the barbwire fence back into school but it might have been a dream. I woke the next day and on attempting to open my eyes found that I had zero vision in my right eye. I raised my hand and gently felt the contours of my face, the topology was changed, a few bumps here and there obscured all vision from the eye. I tried to recall the events of the previous night and drew a blank after the remark about the TV. I was still drunk and knew it would take at least a few days before I was right again. I tried to piece the missing hours and gave up after a tale of dogs and mad men in Nakivubo was relayed by my companions. It was the first time I had a blackout, it would not be the last.
Alcohol is nice, period, but like all things, if taken to the extremes, then disaster most likely follows. I believe that all human beings use something; you know, to dull the pain of reality, remove the inhibitions, that little voice that keeps saying you'll regret this in the morning. Some use people, substances, activities, and the list goes on and on. Alcohol is the only substance I have so far come across that gives me 'missing time'. Every time it happens, I wonder what the hell I do and say bse I can't remember anything. I allegedly once proposed to a girl.
As much as I want to escape the madness in my head, I don't like the idea that I be running around without any mental checks. I mean, it might spell disaster for the planet. I figured out early on what my threshold was and how many beers it would take to get me there. I also discovered that after the first few good pints, it becomes a job, sipping shit because you want to stay in that ka heightened state but knowing that you've probably just sped past that point when you're actually having a blast and the next stop is shitface town. So drinking became an art, figuring out how to prolong the euphoria and what to do when you've bypassed it by 10pm on a Friday night.
I used to have a simple rule about alcohol. No drinking was to be done if I was sad. I've broken this rule a million times in the past 18 months with devastating results. The last time I had a severe case of missing time was the Idd before last, I cozied up to a bottle of 'Absolut Death' and true to form I died. I woke up in the Bubbles' loo and I couldn't remember entering the place. I walked out, grabbed a baji home and swore off the sauce until further notice. I have since broken that rule twice more. Next year, I will not touch a drop, I think.
That being said. This christmas will see me do a couple of beers, for old time's sake.